7 Tips For Pairing Wine and Cheese

What are tips for pairing wine and cheese?

  1. Match intensity and texture
  2. What grows together, goes together
  3. Bold reds with aged cheeses
  4. Sweeter wines with funky cheeses
  5. Crisp whites with fresh cheeses
  6. Sparkling wines with soft cheeses
  7. Firm, nutty cheeses for all-around choices

It's hard to go wrong with wine and cheese — it’s a classic, well-loved pairing that’s easy for even beginners to appreciate. But, preparing the perfect cheese board for your drink can be a challenge, especially when there are so many options to choose from!

When it comes to wine pairings, the best way to discover what works is to experiment — with some direction, of course. Here are our top tips for pairing wine and cheese to help you on your way!

Why does cheese go well with wine?

Why does cheese go well with wine?

Winemaking and cheesemaking have flourished in tandem for centuries, so it’s no surprise that this is the go-to combination for many wine enthusiasts. They both feature aging processes that produce different flavors, textures, and intensity — so they have a sort of yin and yang relationship

To help you create a magical coupling with great cheese and your favorite bottles of wine, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Match intensity and texture

Heavy with heavy, light with light — that’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when trying to pair your wine and cheese. Remember that aging, tannins, and alcohol content all play into the intensity of your wine.

As a general rule, wines that are over 14.5% ABV tend to be heavier and bolder, and usually pair well with intensely-flavored cheeses. Wines under 12%, on the other hand, are lighter and go great with delicately flavored cheeses.

What grows together, goes together

What grows together, goes together

You should also consider the origins of your wine and cheese before pairing. More often than not, local growing traditions in each wine and cheese region match, making them complementary with each other.

This is also, in part, thanks to the environment where wine grapes grow, and cheese is made. It can be fun to match two from the same area — for example, Italian cheeses like Piave and an Italian red like this Citra Ferzo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a beloved pairing based on region.

Bold reds with aged cheeses

Typically, cheeses are categorized into how “vintage” they are. One that is aged and loses much of its water content becomes a hard, bold, and flavorful cheese with lots of fattiness. This kind of cheese, which includes those like Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Asiago, also feature nutty aromas and a crunchy bite.

For this type of cheese, we recommend pairing it with a similarly bold wine — such as a full-bodied red, which enhances all that’s great about aged cheeses. This is because the fat content in the cheese balances out the high-tannin content in the wine — creating a balanced pairing. Plus, the nuttiness and saltiness of the cheese complement the tannin bite of this class of red wines.

Try cheeses aged at least a year, such as Gruyère, Manchego, Gouda, or Parmesan-style varieties like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Grana Padano. Pair this with a Bordeaux like Château Bernateau Grand Cru, a Foppiano Lot 96 Petite Sirah, or our Oxford Landing Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz.

Sweeter wines with funky cheeses

Sweeter wines with funky cheeses

Sweeter wines like our Wente Riverbank Riesling and Yarden Heights Gewürztraminer, and dessert wines such as a Lustau Moscatel Emilín go wonderfully with stinky, washed-rind cheeses.

These cheeses have a unique, undeniably stinky aroma that hints at their subtle sweetness, nuttiness, and strong earthy tastes — all of which make them the perfect match for fruit-forward wines. This pairing allows the wine’s sweetness to cling to the strong scent and creamy texture of the cheese to create a striking combination of flavors.

In contrast, red wines may taste a bit metallic or flat with this type of cheese. But, some fruity reds, like the Henschke Keyneton Euphonium, have a more taste-friendly acidity and fine-grained tannins that work well with these cheeses.

One classic sweet wine and funky cheese pairing you must try is our Chateau Rieussec Sauternes with Roquefort. Delicious!

Crisp whites with fresh cheeses

Unripened, fresh cheeses tend to be on the lighter, tangy side when it comes to taste. These are also often infused with other ingredients, such as chili, fruits, herbs, and spices. Under this category are cheeses like Feta, Ricotta, and Mozzarella.

This type of cheese matches exceptionally well with whites that are crisp, light-bodied, and have punchy aromatics. In particular, they love wines that have an apple, berry, citrus, and tropical fruit flavors. Our Bolla Pinot Grigio and Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon are good examples.

Steer clear of full-bodied, tannin-heavy wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec if you want to enjoy the more delicate flavors of your fresh cheeses.

Sparkling wines with soft cheeses

Sparkling wines with soft cheeses

Soft cheeses, like Brie, Camembert, Cremont, Humboldt, and the like are delicious — but are also quite creamy and sticky. Sparkling wines have high acidity and carbonation, which offer a palate-cleansing effect that’s perfect for this type of cheese. This pairing is even better with fruitier sparkling wines, which enhance the cheese’s earthy notes.

One great match to these soft, bloomy rind cheeses is sparkling wine like our Elyssia Gran Cuvee Brut. The dry bubbles of this wine cut through the creamy texture of these cheeses, and can also emphasize their more pungent, nutty flavors.

Our Champagne Marguet Shaman Rose Grand Cru is another great option, as its beautiful accents of minerals and flowers help refresh your palate after the butter and cream taste of Humboldt fog.

Firm, nutty cheeses for all-around choices

If you’re serving several wines at once, and not sure what type of cheese to serve on your boards, then your safest bet is to go with something firm and nutty — like some Swiss, Gruyère, Emmental, and Gouda.

These are great all-around options that pair well with most medium to full-bodied wines. They work particularly well with reds thanks to their aromatic taste and fat content, but also have enough delicate flavors to taste great with white wines.

Key Takeaway

Wine and cheese are a centuries-old pairing that even wine beginners can enjoy. But, preparing the right cheeses for your wine can be easier said than done — so use our tips for pairing wine and cheese to guide you while prepping your cheese board!

To help you test these tried-and-true combinations and find which combinations work best for you, visit Ralph’s Wines & Spirits’ online store today! We offer the widest collection of great wines for delivery in Metro Manila.

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